12 Nov The Continuing Value of Tradeshows
It’s no secret the tradeshow industry has taken a beating in 2020. Yet there’s hope that reduced travel restrictions, fewer cases of COVID-19 and improving protocols could enable a resurgence in tradeshow in-person attendance as soon as Q1 or Q2 of 2021.
The eventual return to live events will most certainly come with updated considerations for safety, travel, capacity and virtual formats. Variables for changing state, local, national and international regulations will be keys to successful event planning.
But there are bright spots on the horizon as international tradeshows are finding their footing in the new normal.
During the Oct. 8 Marketing and Tradeshow Virtual Roundtable, Ryan Klemm, senior business development manager at Messe Dusseldorf North America, Chicago, shared some of the recent developments in international tradeshows.
After having to postpone a number of international shows in the spring and summer, Messe Dusseldorf, one of the world’s leading tradeshow management companies, welcomed its first post-pandemic show in September. The show hosted more than 100,000 visitors, exceeding the expectations of show planners and creating a template for future tradeshows.
“As the first show to be held in Germany, this set the standard and showed we can do tradeshows in a safe and effective way,” he said.
“We learned the demand is still there to hold tradeshows in person.”
The desire to return to live events is viewed by many as relief from extreme digital fatigue, something that was strongly echoed by the marketing professionals in attendance at the roundtable.
A poll taken during the event found that 78% plan to attend a tradeshow in Q1 or Q2 of 2021.
Although the option for virtual remains, many shared that virtual tradeshows have not allowed their companies to interact and ask questions in the same manner that would be part of an in-person interaction.
One virtual element that will remain is the increasing online presence of tradeshows that add to interactivity. Klemm said he expects the hybrid model to continue as a way to help participants stay connected and boost interactions.
This option will also be important for those who are hesitant to travel and for companies who have decreased their travel and tradeshow budgets.
“There’s something unique that happens at a tradeshow,” said Dennis Gunnell, IBIE 2022 Chairman.
“These events offer an opportunity for dialogue to discuss your needs in-person, and you have all of the resources in one place. Our industry is mature, and we still come up with innovation every year and IBIE is a great showcase for this. There’s so much value in getting together face-to-face.”
The gathering of likeminded individuals in-person also allows the industry an opportunity for a critical reset, which is particularly important as many are rethinking how business is done. Education and networking elements allow for the real-time sharing of the trials and the triumphs along with a forum for finding new solutions to the changes and challenges that lie ahead.
I predict that tradeshows moving forward will continue to evolve, and as a result, we’ll find even more reasons to place a greater emphasis on the exchange of ideas and learning.
Bringing people together allows us to solve for evolving needs of the industry while highlighting the importance of collaboration, engagement and sharing, so the conversations continue long after the tradeshow floor closes.